If you know me, you know that the Sailor Starlights are some of my all time favorite characters from Sailor Moon. And if you didn’t know – yay, now you do! They were minor characters in the manga that helped to tell a story and guide Sailor Moon toward a fight she never wanted but had to battle. In the anime, they became major characters with more personality to them although it still wasn’t much to work with and a lot of unwanted changes. The musicals turned them into slightly different versions of themselves yet again, assisting Sailor Moon and the girls to fight a double battle with two enemies that teamed up against the people of the White Moon.
Each version of the Sailor Starlights gives us a different side of them, a different story – albeit never a complete story. Regardless of how little is known about them, they are almost always a source of controversy and hatred. Although everyone’s opinions and feelings are certainly valid and allowed, I’ve noticed throughout the years that a lot of opinions are based off of facts that…just aren’t true. So, before you make a decision on your stance about the Starlights, it’s important to separate fact from fiction and headcanon. So let’s chat the Sailor Starlights, shall we?
*Important Disclaimer: Yes, I have a lot of sources from the anime and such here, but a lot of points are my opinion too from 19 years of interpreting and diving into the Starlights and their world. For the most part, I labeled what paragraphs were simply opinion as opposed to fact. You do not have to agree with me, and I have no intentions of changing anyone’s headcanons or opinions. I just wanna shed some light on fact VS fiction because there are plenty of misconceptions out there! Thank you guys for being cool and understanding ♡
The Sailor Starlights Are Women … I Promise.
In the manga and musicals, the Starlights were always women. To hide themselves from Galaxia, they crossdressed as males while roaming Earth as the Three Lights. In the original anime, they actually take on the physical bodies of men while on Earth as the Three Lights, and would turn back to their female forms when they transformed into the Starlights. This causes a lot of questioning and arguments within the fandom and has for years. Naoko Takeuchi has constantly expressed her disdain for the change made to the Starlights’ gender in the anime, stating that “Sailor Soldiers are exclusively female.”
Despite the change in gender, there are little hints within the anime that let viewers know that the Starlights are actually female. Something I loved about the ’90s anime was that each character got their own character prologue, poem, and song – it helped you get further into their minds to know their feelings and what they were thinking but couldn’t simply say within the show. In Yaten’s image song, there is a line that states, “Leaving the other two I softly slip away / From the world of boys…”
In episode 189, Minako comments “It’s shocking that the Three Lights are girls! It’s like my love has disappeared!” while trying to joke and cheer up Usagi after the events of episode 188. In episode 194, Kakyuu calls out to Seiya as Fighter, and comments, “Do you use that appearance here on Earth?” Also in 194, Seiya is in their school classroom one more time and says, “This is my last moment as Seiya Kou. Although it was short, it was fun!” To me, both of these moments imply an idea that Seiya, Yaten, and Taiki were personas that were created for Earth and their disguises. And in the case of the original anime, that disguise also consisted of the male body. Otherwise on Kinmoku, they were simply Fighter, Healer, and Maker at all times. This also ties into another thought I’ll talk about later on.
There has been a lot of speculation as to why this happened. The most common idea shared within the fandom is that Toei Animation was looking for a replacement for Mamoru since he was only in part of the Stars arc. A love interest for Usagi to keep things interesting and keep the romantic aspect without him. But then, why make Seiya a male? To have a male replacement? Seiya is said to be a mixture of Haruka and Mamoru, so there’s that. And Usagi is much less innocent in the manga – with implications that she and Mamoru are intimate, and Usagi’s consistent run ins with women leaving people to think she’s not 100% straight. The anime doesn’t have any of these instances, even though there are countless times where Usagi will have perverted thoughts when there was nothing perverted happening (IE: Seiya inviting her to dance). So… did Toei just want another male figure? And since Seiya has bits of Mamoru in her creation, why not make Seiya (and the other two while we’re at it!) men? Nothing has ever been confirmed in regards to this, but it makes you think a lot, doesn’t it?
There’s another argument that the Starlights are transsexual or transgender. Now…first, remember that this was done in the early 1990s. Knowledge and understanding on gender and identity weren’t as readily available then as it is now. There’s a lot we can say and theorize now that we couldn’t then. Not that it didn’t exist then, but was it presented anywhere back then? Hell, was the internet readily available? Was education available? Unfortunately, no. But I digress.
Seiya used “boku” when referring to himself — and herself. But Haruka did, too. Seiya always seemed the most comfortable transitioning into the male disguise on Earth. Again, Seiya was painted as a mixture of Haruka and Mamoru, so him/her saying “boku” regardless makes sense. Maybe she’s a tomboy. Maybe she just feels more comfortable using that terminology; who knows, we were never told. All we can do is infer and create theories and ideas.
Now…this isn’t fact at all, this is purely my thoughts and opinions: I never saw Seiya as the type to label herself — or himself if we’re talking while Seiya was a male on Earth. I always saw Seiya as simply a lover, and Yaten and Taiki as ambiguous — mission first, romance…eh. What’s that? With everything given to us by Naoko Takeuchi, character songs, poems, prologues, and dialogue within manga, anime, and musicals… the Starlights were always represented as truly women at the end of the day.
I mean, personally? I’ve seen and examined the way Seiya speaks with Usagi and Kakyuu and I always saw her as a a part of the LGBTQIA community. I feel like she’d date a woman. That doesn’t mean I don’t see her potentially dating a man, or that she wouldn’t date a man, but then again I have written all sorts of stories about her with only females so. Shrug! As for Yaten and Taiki, I don’t necessarily label them either, but they’re a bit harder to read since we’re given more data about Seiya than we are either one of them.
Now, does any of these words I’ve said thus far mean people can’t have headcanons? Not at all! Have all the headcanons about gender, identity, relationships, etc!! Does that mean they didn’t have physical male bodies on Earth in the anime? No way — we even have a whole beach episode showcasing that, yeah, they definitely had male bodies. But there is nothing official nor canon that imply that they are or identify themselves as anything other than female.
Could that change for the Sailor Starlights in Crystal? It could! Maybe they actually say something different or give us more to work with. Even after all this time, we have basically nothing to work with in terms of fact and official data on the Sailor Starlights. And that is frustrating. The one consistent that we have, for now at least… is that the Sailor Starlights are women. They’re women. The male bodies in the ’90s anime were never supposed to happen. Why they did, maybe one day Toei will let us know for sure! Until then…this is one of the only concrete things we’ve got and know.
Am I Not Good Enough? Oh Gosh.
I am convinced I am one of the only people on this planet that does not see that scene as Seiya being an evil manipulator of Usagi’s feelings.
Hear me out. And remember – this section is only talking about the original anime.
Seiya was never once told about Mamoru, Tuxedo Mask, Prince Endymion in Silver Millennium, nor King Endymion in Crystal Tokyo. I wish so hard that someone told Seiya, because things would be so different and intriguing. So in episode 194 when Seiya throws that red rose and Usagi snaps…Seiya doesn’t get it. This entire time, Seiya was never told that Mamoru went abroad to study; all that was said was that he left. Then all the information given out is “he’s not answering my calls, I’ve received no letters.” To an outsider, Mamoru just sounds like a tool. He sounds like a rude boyfriend that left his girlfriend alone and upset. To us, we know that’s not true. We know what happened and the nature of his relationship with Usagi. Somebody needed to tell Seiya that at some point – but then again, when? Galaxia didn’t give them much time to work with.
So now they’re on the rooftop and Usagi falls to her knees, breaking down and crying. She’s been so strong for so long, by herself with all the stress and struggles of the past few weeks.
- Mamoru left.
- A new enemy arrives.
- The enemy is after her and knows her identity.
- Mamoru hasn’t written back.
- The enemy is trying to kill her.
- Her new friends are also Sailor Soldiers – and are females.
- Mamoru hasn’t called back.
- Her new friends, especially Seiya, were keeping one hell of a secret from her.
- Haruka, Michiru, and Setsuna don’t want Usagi anywhere near these outsider Sailor Soldiers.
- Seiya got hurt trying to protect her.
- Yaten and Taiki do. not. like. them. anymore.
- Mamoru is not answering messages at all.
- Sailor War??? Well that sounds fun! …only not.
- Her friends are in danger because of her.
- Her planet could be destroyed at any time like Kinmoku was.
- Where is Mamoru???
And she was dealing with all of that…alone. Of course she finally broke down! But the thing a lot of people don’t consider is: seeing Usagi break down caused Seiya to finally break down as well, albeit in a different way.
No. Saying “am I not good enough?” to a grieving girl in the middle of a breakdown is not the right move. It’s a dumb, idiotic move. It’s a selfish move. It’s also a heartbroken move. This is going to tie into my next point so I’m going to plop them together…
The Sailor Starlights Are Absolutely Not Okay
Let’s rewind a bit before the infamous scene of episode 194. (Just talking about the anime, again!)
Kinmoku. Galaxia arrives out of nowhere. Kills people, destroys the planet entirely leaving phages in her wake. Kakyuu flees Kinmoku. Galaxia’s capturing of Star Seeds from the people of Kinmoku causes them to turn into monsters that the Starlights cannot cure. They…have no choice. They have to attack them. They have to kill them. There are too many of them. They’re tired, exhausted, beaten, battered, bloodied, and left alone. They, too, flee Kinmoku to follow Kakyuu…and now they’re on Earth. They have no idea what Earth’s customs are. They have no idea where Kakyuu is or where they are. They have to disguise themselves because Galaxia is surely making her rounds, it’s inevitable that she’d arrive on Earth, too. They have to stay hidden while still looking for Kakyuu — but oh, wait. Phages? Animamates? Galaxia has come to Earth to do what she did to Kinmoku to Earth. Fun, right? No way.
Now they have to watch their cover while still continuing to look for Kakyuu. In the meantime, they’re now dealing with the stresses of being idols – fangirls, interviews, concerts… But at least they’ve made some new friends to help them laugh and push through their horrible memories to get to the light at the end of the tunnel that they so desperately need. That is, until they find out that their new friends are also Sailor Soldiers.
Yaten takes this very hard and it comes out in episode 192 when Yaten gets on Minako’s case for going after her dreams. She’s a Sailor Soldier, how the hell does she have time to just be Minako Aino? She’s Sailor Venus and that’s it — and of course Yaten thinks that. Yaten was only ever Sailor Star Healer and that was it; there was no Yaten until she came to Earth. He literally cannot process this idea and it makes him so mad. Galaxia is on their planet and could drop the ball at any time, yet Minako is…singing at an idol audition? Minako helps break that confusion by telling Yaten that Usagi wanted her to be there. They’re soldiers with a mission but are still themselves with dreams and aspirations and goals, too. They’re the same person.
Yaten’s having other issues, too, while this is going on. He doesn’t want to be on Earth, doesn’t want to be an idol. Hates the persona they’ve created and hates the lies. Hates the fangirls because they don’t know him, how could they say they love him? How could they love him…he’s killed people. He’s hurt people. He fled her planet and left his people behind. He lost her princess and cannot find her. On top of that, Seiya is not distracting himself from his issues by falling in love with Usagi. Has Seiya forgotten their mission? Has Seiya forgotten why they’re on Earth? It’s not for Usagi Tsukino, not for Sailor Moon.
Seiya is the leader of the Sailor Starlights. Seiya let them down. Seiya couldn’t control what happened on Kinmoku, couldn’t defeat Galaxia, couldn’t protect Kakyuu. As Fighter, she lost Kakyuu. She lost everything.
So, they go to Earth and somehow the idea to be male idols comes up. I personally like to think it was Seiya’s idea, but I digress. Seiya is dealing with a lot of guilt, stress, grief, heartache, and physical hurt. Then…there’s Usagi. Usagi, who Mamoru calls the brightest star in the galaxy, shines. She shines just as brightly as…Kakyuu. Usagi becomes an instant distraction. That distraction becomes love. Pure love. It doesn’t help that Usagi is Sailor Moon, and Sailor Moon is the only person that can cure people from being Phages — aside from Kakyuu. The comparisons almost blend the two together in Seiya’s head, which prompts Yaten questioning if Seiya can’t see the difference between them and ask if Seiya’s forgotten their mission.
But Usagi is all about this guy, the guy that left her. The guy that won’t answer her calls, respond to her letters, nothing. The guy that makes her go quiet and look so sad. Seiya hates this guy. Doesn’t know anything about Mamoru, but knows enough to hate him just for hurting Usagi.
Then Taiki… Taiki seems to have given up. Taiki loses himself in his singing and poetry, but doesn’t know why they’re even doing it anymore. In episode 185, Taiki has a breakdown where he struggles with what they’re doing and why. Will they find their princess? Can she even hear them? What is the point, what is their purpose? He isn’t able to grasp that until the little girl, Misa, draws a picture of Kakyuu for him saying that she could see a vision of Kakyuu in her head every time she heard the Three Lights sing.
And now to piggyback off something I said above: Otherwise on Kinmoku, they were simply Fighter, Healer, and Maker at all times. This also ties into another thought I’ll talk about later on. Seiya, Yaten, and Taiki didn’t exist on Kinmoku – Fighter, Healer, and Maker did. Just like how Mars, Merury, Jupiter, and Venus were always their Sailor Guardian selves in Silver Millennium and Crystal Tokyo, same rule applies to the Sailor Starlights on Kinmoku. Only difference is: they never had downtime. They never had regular citizen time where they weren’t on alert or on watch in costume. So now that they’re on Earth, they have to adapt to that new kind of lifestyle, on a new planet, with new customs. That sounds exhausting, but I am also very lazy.
The Sailor Starlights are spent. They’re done. They’re tired. How they’re able to laugh and joke or even get up in the morning is beyond me.
Okay! Back to the “am I not good enough?” scene.
Take this whole section into account and fast forward to episode 194. Usagi and Seiya were using each other as distractions. Usagi needed a distraction from the 16 things I listed above, and Seiya needed a distraction from this whole section of this article. Seeing the rose reminded Usagi of Mamoru and caused her to finally crack, breaking her optimistic facade and causing her to crumble. Seeing Usagi break down, seeing the one light, the one distraction he had break down…causes Seiya to break down. It’s just a spiral for the both of them, as we see in episode 195 when the two of them can barely speak to even their best friends. They’re so hurt, so tired, so worn and broken inside and out. They need each other more than anyone can understand, and that has nothing to do with who to ship Usagi with. Usagi has said it multiple times in the anime: Seiya is a very important person to her. Usagi is a very important person to Seiya. They light each other up in an otherwise dark world that not even their friends can light up. That’s pretty deep.
So, yeah…while Seiya probably should’ve (definitely should’ve) used better words, more comforting words, or maybe shared some of her own struggles to make Usagi feel like Seiya could relate better, or even not said anything…this scene isn’t as evil as people make it out to be. At least, not to me.
Let Usagi’s Voice Be Heard!
A lot of people chalk Seiya up to being a nice guy, and point at the Sailor Starlights for being outsiders they can’t trust. Usagi is kind, pure, and understanding, she always listens to her friends because they have the best intentions. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t told multiple people how she feels. Honestly? This scene had me cheering. Not just because ~Starlights~, but because yes Usagi! Stand up for yourself! Her friends weren’t totally in the wrong, they were trying to protect her because of so many things going on…but still. Usagi made it clear, and not just here.
She may be a bit naive at times, and clueless, and totally oblivious…but that’s the Usagi we all know and love. As the series goes on, that’s still Usagi – however, she also matures in ways we expect and don’t expect. I never expected her to lash out at Setsuna, Michiru, and Haruka, but I love that she did. And I love that she apologized immediately after. It was a harsh retort, but one that needed to be said – just, maybe differently. Usagi recognizes that.
Usagi and Seiya constantly bickered back and forth about hanging out and “going on dates” to which Usagi would always yell at Seiya about. Their relationship was constant playful banter, back and forth. A lot of people interpret this as Seiya being a “nice guy.” The thing is….Seiya’s intentions were pure from the get go. And if they weren’t, or if Usagi really didn’t like it outside of banter, she would’ve said or done something. Usagi’s not as dumb or ditzy as one may think. She’s matured since the first episode of Sailor Moon and has a mind of her own. Being a confident flirt has always been a part of Seiya’s personality – anime, manga, or musical. That’s just who she is, and Usagi accepts her wholeheartedly.
In Conclusion…? I Guess?
The Sailor Starlights are not flawless characters. They have plenty of flaws and issues. I’m glad they do – I don’t want them to be perfect, and thankfully they are far from perfect.
I’m not here to change minds or yell at people in regards to the Sailor Starlights, although I have certainly had it happen numerous times directed at me in regards to the Starlights! There’s just a lot to really dive in and think about, and everyone can interpret them and work with the facts and the inklings of information we can read between the lines per series. This article really focused in on the anime because that’s where they get attacked the most. People don’t have to like them; that’s okay! People can have their opinions and thoughts but at the end of the day, it’s important to make sure that those opinions are based off of things that were really said and done, not something that somebody on Tumblr said once back in 2010.
I’m sure I’ll continually come back to this post and add more thoughts, but it’s a long enough read already… I’ll leave this post with a copy/paste from Tumblr (irony!) that I wrote years ago in reply to a comment made about Seiya. I often think Seiya (in the anime) is incredibly misunderstood and with no real info to work with, it’s easy for the wrong conclusions to be made. I obviously have a lot of feelings about this show and the Sailor Starlights. Feel free to chat it up~!
i only semi-partially agree with this. i do think the anime tried very hard to have seiya/usagi replace mamoru/usagi since he was, you know…dead. love interests and triangles always get more attention, but i don’t think seiya had no voice or character or personality or development at all. she had a loud one, at least in my opinion she did.
yes, seiya liked usagi. everyone’s aware of that – except usagi (to an extent; i think as the series went on she was realizing it more, even if not fully), but everyone’s aware of that, too. seiya is tied in my top three favorites not solely because of her love for usagi, although it did help a little.
i like how confident and flirtatious she was. yes, she was cocky, but i needed her to be. i didn’t want her to be “perfect.” she needs flaws; she has tons of them. i like how she threw herself into the role of an idol in high school, totally soaking up the regular high school life (sports, after school clubs and events), while at the same time being in love with the spotlight. all of that taught me that she loves sports, loves working out and being active, loves being social and is an outgoing, friendly person.
the camp episode taught me that she’s a jokester, with everything she said to the inners and her failed attempt at scaring them in costume. the date episode and the softball taught me that she hates losing and is very competitive. it reiterated her love of sports and being active (softball and dancing).
i love how she, taiki, and yaten were really like sisters that wanted to kill each other. this kept going on over and over throughout all of stars. that episode with taiki and misa in the hospital, i loved that scene at the end when seiya and yaten are screaming and fighting at each other while misa laughs at how dumb they both are. in this same episode, seeing her strike taiki while yaten tries to pull her back, they’re all so close – close enough to beat the hell out of each other but not just to do it, rather to help the other process and focus. i mean, i wouldn’t punch my friend unless she was doing something mad stupid, but maybe in seiya’s eyes taiki was doing something mad stupid.
talking about her musically is silly, because it was a recurring theme throughout the whole season. i thought it was cool that she plays guitar, drums, and i think piano?, on top of singing and acting and dancing. somebody keeps herself busy during down time on kinmoku.
despite how chaotic everything is becoming, she still stays friendly and loyal to kakyuu AND the inners. she’s not a fan of haruka, and i wish i got to see them fight more, but it’s cool since i heart them both i wouldn’t have been able to pick a side. she’s very devoted and loyal and those aspects keep repeating themselves when she’s fighter within multiple episodes. serious business, got shit to do today, no jokes, kind of girl. then as seiya, all of that gets put away. that was intriguing to me. how long had she been holding back this playful personality? is she able to unwind on kinmoku, or is it all seriousity all the time?
the hints of a tiny something between her and kakyuu interested me at the same time as her plight with usagi did, but they weren’t the main interests for me. it feels to me that she could be in love with the idea of being in love. she had gone through all the incidents with galaxia on kinmoku, and now here’s this blonde who helps her forget her hardships while reminding her of her princess and boop, she falls in love. she doesn’t understand who she’s fallen in love with, doesn’t understand why usagi pines for a man that seems to not give a damn; she’s just in love and wants to be loved back and believes so damn much that she’s better than this loser boyfriend that’s nowhere to be seen.
i as a viewer knew all about mamoru and his disappearance, so waiting to see how seiya would find out about it and how she’d handle it was an exciting point for me. i vividly see her face from episode 197 when galaxia finally explains what happened to mamoru, and usagi breaks down. she was crushed…but kept pushing to protect her and defeat galaxia no matter how much heartache she felt – not just because of usagi, but damn how many people had died at this point? pretty sure galaxia, usagi, the starlights, and chibi chibi were the sole survivors – anywhere. that’s a lot of death – who said that sailor moon doesn’t have its serious darker moments? did you watch stars? did you read the manga? the manga is crazy; i am so stoked to see them animate that, you guys.
i don’t know, i see tons of development and sides to seiya aside from “hi i’m seiya, i love usagi tsukino.” i mean, duh she did, but i learned a lot about her aside from that. and maybe it’s because seiya is tied with yaten and minako for my #1 fave spot that i feel this way – i’ve analyzed the hell out of her because i wanted to understand (mostly for fanfiction’s sake). her voice rings loud and clear for me. i love the hell out of her – anime, manga, and myu, and you damn right i want more.
/end rizuki’s really long like a forsaken novel point of view corner